Written by Talent KAS

Related Topics: Environment & Biodiversity, Wildlife Protection


  • A large number of amateur photographers are descending on the Nilgiris and the rest of the Western Ghats to capture footage of stunning vistas and exotic wildlife.
  • Conservationists are concerned that enthusiasts using drone cameras may be posing a significant threat to the endangered species of birds, especially raptors, many of which are known to attack the equipment and sustain injuries in the process.

How drone cameras pose threat to wildlife?

  • According to wildlife experts, raptors, when threatened, are known to even abandon nesting sites.
  • Unfortunately, many species of raptors threatened with extinction nest in rocky outcrops, where amateur photographers most wish to use drones to photograph or shoot footage.
  • Falcons are known to attack drones on sight.
  • When birds attack these cameras, the rotor blades of the equipment can cause massive life-threatening injuries to them, and even stop them from effectively hunting for food, resulting in a slow, agonizing death.
  • Not just raptors, there have been even videos of elephants being absolutely frightened by drone cameras.
  • In April 2019, a river tern was killed after being hit by a drone in Bhadra Tiger Reserve in Chikmagalur, Karnataka.
  • In the Nilgiris, a group of tourists were arrested in Mudumalai for flying a drone close to the nesting sites of the endangered White rumped vulture.

Prohibition on use of drones

  • The use of drone cameras or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles mounted with filming equipment in forest areas, without the permission of the Chief Wildlife Warden is a criminal offence.
  • The forest departments need to work with the district administration, the police and also private resorts, to stipulate that the use of such cameras especially in ecologically sensitive areas like the Nilgiris is prohibited.

Way Forward

  • While a blanket ban on drones is impossible to enforce, the forest department should identify areas where vultures and other raptor species are known to nest, and set up effective policing to prevent unauthorized use of the cameras.
  • While 90 percent of photographers will act ethically, there will always be a few who will value their photographs over the well-being of wildlife, and these are the people who need to be stopped.
  • Stricter fines and warning boards cautioning them against the use of drones could be one way of preventing their use.

[Source: The Hindu, Vikaspedia]

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Talent KAS

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